Arlene, Barnabas, and Me

I’ve heard many people say these words, “When I get to heaven, the first person I want to meet after I see Jesus is….”  Then, they proceed to say the name of a wonderful Bible character, many of whom I’d like to meet, too.  Paul, Peter, David, the list goes on and on.  Well, the person I want to meet after I see Jesus is Barnabas.  Why? You ask.

Well, I’ve always admired Barnabas for sticking up for Paul when he had NO friends in the believing world.  But I decided to take another look at him when I found out one of my top two spiritual gifts was “encouragement.”  Barnabas means “son of encouragement.”  And that’s just what he did.

I spent over a week looking up every mention of Barnabas in the Scripture and writing down a corresponding character trait that he showed from those passages.  There were over 25 of them.  AND, there was only one time he was mentioned in a negative light.  Galatians 2:13 speaks of Paul opposing Peter and the other believers and he makes this statement about Barnabas, “And even Barnabas was led astray…”  I chuckled when I realized there was a veiled compliment in that statement.  “EVEN” Barnabas.  Paul could scarcely believe his ears.

The encouragement that Barnabas must have been to so many came back to my memory when I heard that one of my mentors was getting ready to step into the Presence of Jesus.  Ninety-three year old Arlene Butchart has encouraged me more than I can say in this short writing.  Every time we would leave her after visiting for a while, I would say exactly the same thing to my husband, Michael, “When I grow up, I want to be just like Arlene!”  He chuckled the last time I said those words with a quip of his own, “When will that be?  You’re already 67 years old.”

When I think of Arlene, I think of Barnabas.  Always moving his listener toward Jesus.  Always giving someone a firm grip of grace.  Always showing what Jesus would do, rather than telling.  Arlene always did those things for me.

And then, my heart turned and looked at Jesus. (Yes, our hearts have eyes.)  He smiled and let me know He was looking forward to welcoming her into His kingdom.  Then, His look said it all to me, “Go thou, and do likewise.”  I nodded, smiled, and turned to see who God was bringing into my world next.

New Lessons Learned

My friend, Dawn, and I are in our fourth year of meeting once a week.  We usually study a book that has meaning and will be inspirational to our Christian walk.  We started with a book titled “Journey with Jesus.”  It was THE best start to these past three years.

One of the “disciplines” we learned in that book was a new one for me.  It is called “Lectio Divina.”  Many of you already know about this priceless avenue into hearing from God.  But it has been one of the best, most wondrous, teachings that has helped me glean more and more from God’s Word.  I’d like to give you the latest “gleanings.”  But first, let me define Lectio Divina for you.

“Lectio Divina (Latin for Divine Reading) is a traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation, and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God’s Word.  It does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied, but as the Living Word.”

The passage I decided to study this past week was one of my favorites, Luke 24:13-33, the story of the two men walking on the road to Emmaus after Jesus death.  I had been stuck on just one lesson learned from that story and so, decided to see what else God might have for me.

Here are the steps to the “Lectio:”

  1. Read – read the passage slowly several times
  2. Reflect – read it again, slowly, and reflect on a word or phrase that stands out to you. Does it “shimmer on the page?”  Begin thinking about why that word or phrase might stand out to you.
  3. Ask God how this might connect with your life today?
  4. Respond – read the passage again. Ask God to reveal what He wants you to know.  Tell him what you think the Spirit is saying.
  5. Rest – Wait on God. Simply be with Him and listen.
  6. Another way you can “do” the Lectio is to put yourself in the passage. What are you feeling?  What do you see?  What do you do?

Well, on to the lesson(s) for the day.

You remember the story.  Two men were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, discussing the events of the past few days.  Jesus, unrevealed to them, joined them.  The discussion ensued and eventually, Jesus explained the Christ’s birth, death, resurrection to the men.  Toward nightfall, they came to Emmaus and begged Jesus to stop with them for a while.  He did and revealed Himself to them.  They rushed back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples.  That’s it in a nutshell.  Then, several lessons became clear to me.

First lesson:  Jesus was willing to tell them all they needed to know about the situation.  Anything that was hidden was hidden (who He was) for a purpose and revealed when the time was right.

Lesson – God reveals what we need to know when we need to know it.

Lesson #2:  The men could have missed the blessing if they hadn’t asked Him to stay with them.  They invited Him in to share their lives.  He did.

Lesson – How many times have I missed a blessing by not wanting Him with me or asking Him to stay.

Lesson #3:  Somehow on the road, they sensed He was more than just a traveling companion.  Their words spoke volumes, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Lesson – It was the Testimony and the Word that opened things up to them.  I want Him to be more than just a traveling companion to me, too.

Lesson #4:  Even though it was almost night, they hurried back to Jerusalem.  It might have been dangerous on the road at night, but their message was just too important to allow fear to stop them.

Lesson – How many times have I been afraid to take the next step or follow through on a known path?

Lessons for the journey.  God wants to walk with me and talk with me and reveal Himself to me.  I want the same thing.  Give Lectio Divina a try.  It’s well worth the try.

What to Wear?

Sunday School has been a place where I have learned many concepts about the Christian walk.  It all started while I was a preschooler and learned the little songs that still hold such great Truths for me.  You know, songs like “Jesus Loves Me,” “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” “Deep and Wide,” and others.  I love these little songs and sing some of them, still.

As I grew up, Sunday School always was a place of learning and fun.  I remember some of those teachers from way back, like Gladys Bass and Paul Baker.  They got their Message across and lived lives that backed those messages up.  As an adult, I have always enjoyed Pastor Steve Redfern’s teaching, too.  Lots to learn from that man.

My Sunday School teacher now is Fred Gambill.  He really gets the point across and in such a way that I want to remember it and apply it to my life.  However, there was one Sunday that I gleaned a new concept during Sunday School from one of my co-students in the class, Peggy.

The lesson that day included putting on the Armor of God and how we go about doing this.  I’ve been very familiar with this concept and have done this for many years.  You go through Ephesians 6:10-18 and mentally put on each piece of armor to protect yourself throughout the day.  That Sunday morning, we were also discussing “kindness” and how it is the forgotten fruit of the Spirit.  Peggy began telling about how she “puts on” the armor of God each morning, but then her words captured me and I saw a whole new avenue of growth.  She said, “Each morning, I put on the armor of God.  However, I do something that has helped me just as much.  Before I put the armor on, I “put on,” and “clothe” myself with all the other attributes that the Lord has instructed us to wear.  Things like kindness, strength and praise.  There are a lot of them that I put on before I put the armor on over them.”

Those words began a search for me.  I started through my concordance finding all the places where “put on” or “clothe” were mentioned.  I was AMAZED!!!  Here are just a few of them:

Garment of Praise (Isaiah 61:3)                  Kindness (Colossians 3:12)

Power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49)      Gentleness (Col 3:12)

And there are many, many more.  I held my list in my hand and recounted them, and found new strength in my inner man as I clothed myself each day for a week with this wonderful list of godly characteristics.

What should I wear?  Compassion, forgiveness, strength, the Lord Jesus Christ, love, dignity, gladness…and on and on it goes.  Then, I put on the armor of God to cover it all for the day.  What a great concept!  Thank you Peggy, and thank You, Lord, for continuing to teach me day after day after day.

Old dogs CAN learn new tricks, even after 60 years of following the Savior.

Lots of “Moseying” Going On Around Here

The view from our veranda four stories up was beautiful.  I could see Blackcomb Mountain in one direction and Whistler Mountain in another.  The sun was shining and it was a perfect 75 degrees with a soft breeze.  Our vacation was starting off as we were just figuring out how to unwind from a very busy month at home.

I’d already taken two naps, so was ready to see what there might be to see from our veranda.  I was just sitting, watching as folks came and went from the Starbucks below and across the courtyard from me.  All of a sudden I realized there was NO ONE in a hurry.  Everyone was sauntering and looking around or as my Midwest wording popped up…they were just moseying.

My thoughts drifted then to Jesus.  (I love how He just seems to pop up in my thoughts, sometimes.  J)   I began to imagine Him going from place to place throughout His three year ministry journey, and I realized, with a start, that I don’t remember one reference to Him ever being in a hurry.

So, why do I allow my life to become so complex that I find myself short of breath and without breathing room so much of the time?

Note to self:  take a break from the busyness of life…pause…make sure the pause is longer than a few minutes and incorporate a little more “mosey” in my life.  If Jesus did, so should I.

The Three Rocks

Picture three rocks in your mind’s eye:

A big ugly rock with these words written on it, “God Does It All.”

A small shiny agate

A diamond ring

Here are three different, distinct kinds of rocks.  Yet, they each have value to me.  Why?  Because I have placed value on them.  God looks at each of us and sees us as valuable.  Why?  Because He has chosen to place value on us.

The big ugly rock gives me hope when I feel I can’t “do it all.”  The day I found this rock changed my heart.  I was berating and finding fault with myself.  I was whining and moaning, as I went to a scheduled Prayer Retreat.  On that retreat, we were to find a rock, write on it what we felt God wanted us to give Him, then toss the rock in the water and watch the water dissolve the writing away.  During this little exercise, I found myself realizing that God didn’t really need me to accomplish His will.  He could use a rock if He so chose.  So, I wrote the words “God Does It All” to remind me that He uses me because He loves me and wants me to have a place of purpose in His kingdom.  Why do I place value on this?  Because it reminds me that God is God, and I’m not.  It is very valuable to me because of my relationship to God.

 Small shiny agate – My husband, Michael, and I were on Shaw Island in the San Juan’s.  We decided to walk to “Agate Beach” and pick up agates.  I had no idea what an agate looked like, but began picking up rocks that were pretty and shiny.  After about 20 minutes, my rocks filled my coat pockets and were getting very heavy.  I glanced at Michael and said, “Wow!  My agates are a’draggin’!”  We both burst into laughter.  I cleaned out my pockets and kept only a few of those “agates.”  So, this rock represents the fun and enjoyment I have with my husband.  Having been in a marriage where much was sorrow and pain, I keep this little agate to remind me that I’m blessed.  I place value on this because of my relationship with my husband.

Diamond ring – You might look at the ring and say, “Those stones aren’t very big.  Sure, it holds some value because it holds diamonds, but come on now, there are diamonds out there bigger than those.”  You’re right.  However, this ring is very valuable to me.  It was part of my mother’s wedding set.  Every time I look at this ring, it reminds me of the fact that my parents made it through 52 years of marriage before my father passed away.  They loved and nurtured me, teaching me the things of God and His ways.  This ring is very valuable to me because of my relationship to my parents.

God the Father, the Alpha and Omega, the One who raised the dead and healed the blind, loves you and considers you of great worth.

You cannot find your worth in:

Whether you are young or old

Whether you are rich or poor

Whether you are working or at home

Whether you live in a big house or lack all the “nicer” things in life

Your worth is found only in Jesus Christ.  When you search for your identity in anything else or anyone else, you will find yourself lacking.  Jesus is the one that gives you your worth.  He sees you as valuable and worth His death.  He paid a great price for you – His life.  We need to spend much time rejoicing that we are His and His alone.

Yes, I John 3:1 says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.  And that is what we are!”

We are people of worth.  And this realization is just the start.  Once we’ve gathered the fact that God loves us and values us, what does that mean?  A new life – a new perspective – a new purpose – a new calling.  Let’s look forward to those new things as we learn to be like Him.  We are of great value to Him.